Arts and Entertainment David Blunkett thinks shows that mock politicians should be subject to tougher libel scrutiny

Programmes that mock politicians cross the line from satire to comment, he says

Cult or cure: the AA backlash

Alcoholics Anonymous is under attack. Those who have been through its mill claim it is `authoritarian' and `fascistic', employs brainwashing techniques and is cult-like in its attitude to members. Ursula Kenny talks to the disaffected who have rejected its road to recovery

Overworked teachers call for strikes

MEMBERS of the biggest teachers' union yesterday called for strikes to promote a new national contract to provide a four-day teaching week.

Walk this way to a better business

Shamanism, chanting and meditation are no longer regarded with suspicion - people are using them to improve their personal lives and performance at work, reports Helen Jones.

If you're not past your sell-by date, maybe you're entering the Fourth Age

ALL would live long but none would be old said Benjamin Franklin in 1741. As the 20th Century draws to a close, life expectancy has certainly increased, but no-one likes to think of themselves as old.

DESIGN: AN IDEA WORTH LIVING IN

All-in-one knitted nylon suits might make you smile, but where would you be without the microwave and the remote control? Katherine Sorrell looks at the concept house

Risking life on Everest, Yorks

Charles Arthur on the dangerous hobby of rock-climbing in a Sheffield suburb

The hidden dangers of investing in IT

Do managers understand the risks - financial and otherwise - involved in investing in cutting-edge information technology? A study suggests that they do not. Roger Trapp reports.

Why men kill their children

Louise Jury investigates a particularly heartbreaking form of murder

The dentists who have found out how to conquer fear of the needle

Jacqui Bealing reports on the increasing popularity of treatments ranging from hypnotherapy to acupuncture

Obituary: Professor Kenneth Haley

Kenneth Haley's was a decided, if understated, academic success story which deserves celebration.

A minister in a class of his own

If spin doctors had wanted to design the ideal Labour secretary of state for education, they might have come up with someone very like David Blunkett, a man whose own life shows that his commitment to high standards for all is genuine and heartfelt.

Athletics: Local hero Hough back to being one of the crowd

The unexpected hero of Britain's European conquest in Munich last weekend was another face in the crowd back on home ground last night. Not just another face, however.

Athletics: Hough prepares to hurdle the class barrier

Simon Turnbull meets the young athlete who has leapt on to the grand stage

The woman in me

testimony ; When is a woman not a woman? When she is "outed", as Dr Rachel Padman was last week, as a former man. Transsexuals are still fighting for the same rights as their adopted sex. But harder still are the years before the sex change, writes Mary Rabbett, still a he but desperate to be a she

Timely triumph can trigger boost to British athletics

Mike Rowbottom reports on the valuable stimulus provided by European Cup victory
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there